Estimation of adult skeletal age-at-death using the Sugeno fuzzy integral

Am J Phys Anthropol. 2010 May;142(1):30-41. doi: 10.1002/ajpa.21190.


Age-at-death estimation of an individual skeleton is important to forensic and biological anthropologists for identification and demographic analysis, but it has been shown that the current aging methods are often unreliable because of skeletal variation and taphonomic factors. Multifactorial methods have been shown to produce better results when determining age-at-death than single indicator methods. However, multifactorial methods are difficult to apply to single or poorly preserved skeletons, and they rarely provide the investigator with information about the reliability of the estimate. The goal of this research is to examine the validity of the Sugeno fuzzy integral as a multifactorial method for modeling age-at-death of an individual skeleton. This approach is novel because it produces an informed decision of age-at-death utilizing multiple age indicators while also taking into consideration the accuracies of the methods and the condition of the bone being examined. Additionally, the Sugeno fuzzy integral does not require the use of a population and it qualitatively produces easily interpreted graphical results. Examples are presented applying three commonly used aging methods on a known-age skeletal sample from the Terry Anatomical Collection. This method produces results that are more accurate and with smaller intervals than single indicator methods.

Publication types

  • Historical Article
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • African Continental Ancestry Group
  • Age Determination by Skeleton / history
  • Age Determination by Skeleton / methods*
  • Bone and Bones / anatomy & histology
  • Death*
  • Diet
  • Ear Auricle / anatomy & histology
  • Environment
  • European Continental Ancestry Group
  • Fuzzy Logic*
  • History, 19th Century
  • History, 20th Century
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Pubic Symphysis / anatomy & histology
  • Pubic Symphysis / growth & development
  • Skull / anatomy & histology